RN Anchor type Naval Long Service & Good Conduct medals
This dissertation acknowledges two main sources - Captain Douglas Morris epic '91 publication
(now OOP) "The Naval long Service Medals" & "The Medal Yearbook", & a few other articles I have
collected over the years concerning these medals.
However, in my opinion, any beginner considering collecting Victorian Naval LS medals needs to
have a copy of these two fine publications.
I emphasize that this brief overview is directed to beginners or those collectors not normally
familiar with the Naval LS medals - its just that - an overview, & is not intended to cover every
eventuality or nuance of the Naval LS medals - for that I respectfully refer you to Capt DM's
Most of all I have TRIED to keep it in SIMPLE to understand terms!!!!
& any errors or omissions are of my ignorance, or poor memory, & mine alone!
So read, learn, & enjoy..............
THE VICTORIAN NAVAL LONG SERVICE MEDALS - "ANCHOR TYPE"
This write up is primarily intended for beginners who might consider collecting the Naval Long
Service medal. I have kept the dissertation in easy to understand terms & have tried to “keep it
simple” so to speak.
Altho the first type of Naval LS medal – the “Anchor type” LS - is likely out of the price range of
the average beginner, as it is quite rarely seen on the market & when it is the medal can command
quite hefty price, it is mentioned as it is the ‘grandmother’ of all subsequent Naval LS medals, & as
thus is quite important.
The Victorian Naval LS medal was actually instituted during the reign of King William IV (the “sailor
King” as he was known at the time) in 1830, but continued into the first 10 years of Queen
The William IV & subsequent Victoria Naval LS medals are referred to as the “ANCHOR TYPE"
Long service medals” & are identical to both reigns – one cannot tell (as one can on the Army LS
medals of the same time frame) by looking at the medal, which reign it was from.
The obverse bore a fouled Naval anchor (a ‘killick’ as it is sometimes referred to) surmounted by a
so called ‘Queens’ crown, the entire surrounded on both sides by laurel leaves. The reverse has a
space in the centre of the disc for the recipients details to be ENGRAVED thereon.
Around the circumference is the wording: FOR LONG SERVICE AND GOOD CONDUCT. The disc of
the medal is somewhat smaller than subsequent Victorian medals being 34 mm dia. The
suspension is by a small ring & from it is suspended the dark blue ribbon. The ribbon did not
acquire its white edges until 1848. The suspension on the Anchor LS medals can be seen with
varied suspenders, as the original small ring suspension did not accept the ribbon readily & as a
result many of the recipients had the suspension altered to a loop, ring or bar suspensions, some
being quite ornate. Generally the suspension has no real effect on the prices of these rare medals.
It might be noted here that the engraving of the recipients details include: his name in Capital
letters; his Rate, his Ship, usually in flowing script, & finally his number of years service.
A brief note of explanation here for those unfamiliar with the term RATE or RATING – A seaman’s
RATE means the job his performed on that ship: ie: Captain of the Foretop, Boatswains Mate,
Ships Cook, Bandsman, Sailmaker, etc. With the exception of AB (Able Seaman), there are never
RANKS shown on the early Naval LS medals : ie: Leading Seaman, PO, & CPO. A RATING is an
“enlisted” seaman – an “OR” in Army terms. In the RN a sailor is either an Officer or a Rating.
Basically the time qualification for a rating was 21 years, & only ratings could receive the LS medals
– Officers were not eligible for a Naval LS medal. There is a couple of instances where a Warrant
officer rec’d an Anchor type LS – a very rare occurrence.
The regulations for the award of the Anchor type LS were very complicated & very strict – it was a
definite quota system & only a very few could be awarded & they were awarded to selected &
qualified members of a ships company based upon the total complement of the ship & only when
she was ‘paid off’ (decommissioned at the end of a period of time - a minimum being three years) .
A ratings “time for medal & pension” started to count from age 20 (at that time, it was later
reduced to 18 yrs) & as he req’d a minimum of 21 years service he could not be awarded his LS
medal until he was pensioned at a minimal age of 41. Most men went to pension after receiving
their LS medal although there are many instances of men signing on again after the award of their
As there was a quota system for the award of these medals, only a small number could be
awarded each time a ship decommissioned, thus many eligible men who had the time qualification
did not receive the medal, as the ship they were serving on was too small to receive medals for all
of the qualified ratings. Generally speaking (& again, in trying to keep this simple terms) only 1 in
100 ratings of the ships complement were entitled to receive the medal. So if a ship had a
complement of say 240 men, at the end of the commission only 2 qualified men recommended by
the Captain could receive the LS medal.
It also has to be noted that a rating had to have a continuous record of “EXEMPLARY” or “VERY
GOOD” conduct through out his career. A break in conduct assessment could debar a man from
receiving his medal, altho as seen in practice, this was not always the case.
Thus many men who should have rec’d the medal did not, & this is the reason one sees a varied
number of years engraved as part of the naming details. The highest number of years known is
34, but there could be unknown medals with higher numbers.
There was approx 740 of these Anchor type LS medals issued. For the period 1830 to 1847; the
first one being issued to John Herring on 20 Nov 1830 & the last Anchor LS being issued to
William Bone on 27 Nov 1847.
The reason for the ceasing of the Anchor medal being that the die used to strike the medal
disintegrated thru repeated use, & these flaws in the die can be discerned in the latter issues of
the medal, commencing approx 1844. The die flaws are very noticeable in medals issued in 1846 &
47 in the lower left quadrant of the reverse.
If you look closely at the example to Jeremiah McCoy above you will notice the die flaws running
thru the disc going thru RACER & Years - in the lower left quadrant, & above that starting at
SERVICE & running downwards into his Christian name Jeremiah. There is also a very small flaw in
FOR & extending to LO in LONG at the bottom left.
Many new collectors seem to be of the notion that any early issue Naval LS medal must have been
accompanied by some form of Victorian campaign medal – viz” the NGS (Syria clasp), China ’42,
Baltic, Crimea etc medal. This is not the case. Many many ratings saw absolutely NO active service
during their long sea careers & many of them were lucky if they managed to receive a LS medal!
Valuations of this medal –
What with prices as they are today its difficult to place a hard & fast figure on the Anchor LS medal
– price of this medal depends upon a few factors, such as:
a. its rarity - & its considered one of the rarer medals.
b. the recipient's rating - some rates are scarcer than others.
c. the number of years eng’d on his medal – the higher number of years are rarer they are. Yrs
above 21 are normal - many are seen with 22, 23, 24 years service. Any year above 25 I would say
is unusual & would command a premium.
d. the condition of the medal – men wore these medals proudly, so there could be polishing &
contacting on LS medals. A pristine condition medal will generally command a higher price than a
somewhat worn medal.
e. the reverse – there is approx 9 known “inverted reverse” medals. These are extremely rare.
On an inverted reverse types the ‘FOR LONG SERVICE AND GOOD CONDUCT’ lettering appears
180 degrees reversed. (see photo)
A so called ‘normal’ anchor LS medal will run in the £700-1K range, but considerably more if in a
group with another named campaign medal (s).